Tex - Old South, the Texone by Giampiero Casertano: the review

Tex - Old South, the Texone by Giampiero Casertano: the review

Tex - Old South, the Texone by Giampiero Casertano

Tex - Old South punctually marks the appointment with Tex Special also in this 2021, commonly known to most as Texone. In this twenty-seventh issue for the "giant" register (the reference is obviously to the extra-large size of the register) of the Sergio Bonelli Editore Rangers we find a veteran and a real column of the Milanese publishing house with pencils or Giampiero Casertano who illustrates a screenplay by Pasquale Ruju, one of the usual pards of Texian publications in recent years.

The book that we have been able to preview thanks to Sergio Bonelli Editore will be available in all Italian newsstands from 22 June.

The gold of the South

1864, border between Arizona and New Mexico. A detachment of Confederate troops is fleeing the Unionists, food is scarce as well as ammunition but morale is incredibly high. In fact, the troops are carrying a load of gold that absolutely must not fall into the hands of the enemy even at the cost of going into Apaches territory. There it is decided to hide the gold, sealed in the barrel of a cannon, but unfortunately the burial workers will be the victim of an Indian attack, never revealing the exact location of the treasure to their fellow soldiers.

Many years later Tex and Carson are on the trail of Nadeh, a young rioter who leads one of Indian raiders from various tribes eager for revenge against the white man. The two pards then arrive right on the border between Arizona and New Mexico in a small town with an unequivocal name: Old South.

They are warmly welcomed, or rather as befits foreigners who perhaps arrive in one of the last enclaves Southerners, except to be "rescued" by the mayor Carraway who rivals the two rangers as the city was born and why it is so close to the Indian territory.

Tex and Carson initially do not pay attention to the mayor's story but when a herdsman is killed and scalped, Tex is forced to venture into Apaches territory to avoid an escalation while Carson remains in the city where the situation is anything but how quiet. The mayor was in fact killed and Sheriff Dubbs and his deputy Mallory seem to want to quickly close the case by placing the blame on the Indians and even calling the army to help, thus risking to unleash a bloody reprisal.

But Carson is an expert investigator and does not bite the leaf while Tex, still in Indian territory, tries to discredit Nadeh and his work in front of the other tribes. In a sudden whirlwind of "coincidence" the revolt of Nadeh and the gold of the south will collide with Tex, Carson, the army and Cochise, the leader of the Apaches in the middle.

Old South, greed in the background of the Civil War

Pasquale Ruju has created, as is his tradition, a leathery script that, with a look projected to the Texian classics, offers the reader new points of view on the epic of the Ranger and on the history of the wild west in this specific case. In this sense Old South evokes the mythical Tex 113 - Between two flags, a register that offered the character's personal ethical and moral point of view on the Civil War, an event that acts as a watershed for the history of the United States and the wild west in general. .

As often happens, however, the Sardinian writer, although aware of working on the proverbial shoulders of giants, is not interested in a slavish retelling or in a return to the youth of Tex (for that there is an excellent publication on purpose ) how much to let the specter of the Civil War hover, thus re-emerging the contrast between northerners and southerners that is suddenly accumulated by empty and violent feelings: greed, violence, power.

In this way Ruju shows the intrinsic fallacy of a war already dirty of itself, which he put against the people themselves. But also the intrinsically greedy nature of man who abandons all principles when confronted with money and wealth, even if the price to pay were to unleash a new Indian war as in this case.

Tex and Carson are therefore the voice of reason in this story, indeed the double voice of reason because at first the two pards try to stop the raids of the rebel Nadeh, who leads a group of Apaches rioters, ending up entangled in the events of Old South and its inhabitants and then they must stem the impetus of the army (still perceived as a "northerner" in the city) which, hastily recalled, would not hesitate to indiscriminate extermination, contravening the more methodical, rational and diplomatic approach of the two rangers.

Ruju constructs a screenplay that plays on two obvious narrative lines (the recovery of gold on one side and the threat of Nadeh on the other) whose tensive charge grows parallel to then unite and intertwining in the last act in a plot in which there is no lack of action and irony (the interactions between Tex and Carson are textbook as well as those between Carson and the innkeeper Gertie and her niece) and above all all the typical stylistic features of the Texian narrative (one on all his role as peacemaker between the white man and the Indians).

The author creates archetypes that he lets Giampiero Casertano characterize to perfection and which thus become well-chiseled pawns that allow him to concentrate on a plot extremely balanced, compelling perhaps with a not very high pace but ideal for those who want to read a robust and all-round western.

Giampiero Casertano, a robust but expressive return to tradition

The name of Giampiero Casertano is linked, especially for second generation Sergio Bonelli Editore readers, to Dylan Dog. In fact, Casertano was one of the 7 historic designers who were part of the editorial team that was responsible for launching the series dedicated to the Investigator of the Nightmare created by Tiziano Sclavi and his are the pencils of two perhaps among the best stories ever of the character or Through the Mirror (Dylan Dog 10) and Memories from the invisible (Dylan Dog 19). Despite having drawn another western, certainly more crepuscular, like Ken Parker, Casertano crossed the path of Tex only briefly (with a 32-page story that appeared on Color Tex 4 released in 2013) and this Old South is actually his first "long" test (indeed very long, over 200 tables) for the SBE Ranger.

The veteran Milanese designer then sets up a test entirely devoted to robustness in the wake of a tradition that, digging into the great interpreters who have tried their hand at the Texone, finds in Giovanni Ticci his most effective figure combined with a very personal expressiveness and a taste for the grotesque of the characters that is never redundant that makes aesthetically but not only the most classic western clash with Sergio's synthesis one. Leone.

The Tex of Casertano is ideally that of Ticci: with a squared jaw, penetrating eyes and a muscular but not imposing build. On the other hand, a more personal touch is already felt in Carson: the physiognomic characteristics are accentuated with great attention to the mustache (perhaps never so waxed and expressive) and his expressiveness that almost acts as a flywheel in the various turning points of the script.

The love of the grotesque surfaces in the antagonists Nadeh (the rebel Indian), Dubbs (the sheriff of Old South) and his deputy Mallory. Their features, self-evidently exaggerated, already show their soul clouded by a thirst for power and greed just as their actions are always motivated by double ends or I go back to personal account.

From the point of view of the trait, Casertano is confident and decisive. His black and white is clear, the half colors reduced to a minimum thanks to a precise and persistent but not redundant hatching thanks also to the materic inks that turn into homogeneous blacks: the level of detail is high but does not result in a realism end to himself preferring to concentrate, for example, on the richness of the clothes or once again on the expressiveness of the characters.

It is precisely the attention to expressiveness that allows us to talk about the construction of the table. After the first dozen pages it is clear that Casertano has no intention of "breaking" the traditional "Bonelli cage" and its 3 × 2 scheme (three strips of two square cartoons per page) but this does not prevent him from adopting dynamic solutions and in keeping with his style, showing how the aforementioned "cage" should not be "experienced" by the designer (especially for the younger ones) as a constricting apparatus.

Here, then, appear overwhelmed figures, three strips instead of two vignettes and single horizontal and in some cases quadruple vignettes that take up half a page. These are exceptions that confirm the rule and that Casertano folds in his favor and liking: the horizontals are moved on the page (now in the center, now above) and are almost always medium / long shots (as in the best tradition of classic western cinema) while the single squares (often of variable shape) allow him on the one hand to make the action sequences concise and muscular and on the other to be able to use close-ups and close-ups in which the aforementioned expressiveness of the characters is the master.

An extremely tidy, concise and concise work. A sort of "textbook" for young designers who want to "understand" popular Italian comics as interpreted by the Bonelli school.

The book

As reported at the opening, we were able to read the album in preview in digital format. This did not prevent us from appreciating neither the excellent drawings of the master Casertano nor the full-bodied editorial apparatus that ranges from the historical-literary-cinematographic inspiration of the screenplay by Pasquale Ruju to a short interview with the designer Giampiero Casertano. The issue will then arrive in newsstands in the solid paperback with the consolidated and historic graphic design in which the yellow color predominates, that all-Texian shade that recalls his iconic shirt, starting from the rib.

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